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Gallagher delays exit from Congress to support foreign aid package

Gallagher announced he would leave office April 19, but told reporters this week he would stay on to vote on aid bills

Mike Gallagher
Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., listens during a hearing of a special House committee dedicated to countering China, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Washington. Gallagher announced Friday, June 9, 2023, that he won’t run for U.S. Senate in 2024 against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, leaving an open GOP field with no declared candidates in the battleground state. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is delaying his resignation from Congress in order to support a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which cleared a procedural hurdle Friday and is headed for a floor vote this weekend. 

Gallagher announced in March he would resign from Congress April 19. His decision to leave office came after he faced backlash from Republicans for voting against the impeachment of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Gallagher was one of four Republicans to vote against the measure, which failed 214-216. 

This week, Gallagher’s office told reporters he has the “flexibility” to remain in office to support a package of bills providing billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine and Israel, funding to bolster defenses for Taiwan and humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. A fourth bill, introduced by Gallagher, could result in a U.S. ban on the social media app Tik Tok. 

The Ukraine aid has been strongly opposed by some Republicans, including Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has threatened to file a motion to remove GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson if it advances. 

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On Friday, the House adopted a rule allowing the foreign aid package to proceed to a floor vote on Saturday with the help of 39 Democrats

Laura Blessing, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, said the aid package, and the Ukraine funding specifically, has faced major hurdles within the Republican caucus. She said having Gallagher’s support could help Johnson get the package across the finish line in the House.

“Clearly he’s (Johnson) worried about either the vote or the way it appears, which is why he wants Gallagher to stick around,” Blessing said. “I think Gallagher also just wants to help.” 

She said the House GOP has been “embattled to an unusual degree” and it’s notable that Democrats had to help move the aid package forward.

In an interview with WPR, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, criticized Greene and other Republicans pushing to remove Johnson, claiming they’re simply seeking media attention for fundraising purposes. But Pocan said he expects to see “probably three quarters of Congress” vote on Saturday to fund Ukraine, regardless of Gallagher’s decision to delay his resignation. 

“I’m glad that Mike was a normal Republican where we could disagree, but do it without being disagreeable,” Pocan said. “But ultimately, he left that caucus for some of the same reasons that we criticize it. They’re just unable to govern.”

The House is scheduled to reconvene Saturday at 8 a.m. to begin floor debates on the bills. Pocan says he expects them to pass sometime that afternoon. If that happens, the bills go to the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by a Democratic majority.